Inulin is a type of fiber that is found in some fruits, vegetables, and health supplements.
It is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, but a recent study from Weill Cornell Medicine found that it can also cause a certain type of inflammation in the gut and lungs related to allergies.
The study found that inulin changes the metabolism of gut bacteria, which triggers a type of inflammation called type 2 inflammation.
This type of inflammation is a defense mechanism against parasitic worm infections and is also involved in wound healing, but its inappropriate activation can cause allergies, asthma, and other inflammatory diseases.
Previous studies have found that inulin can increase the populations of good bacteria in the gut, which in turn boosts anti-inflammatory immune cells.
However, this study found that inulin also induced higher levels of white blood cells called eosinophils in the gut and lungs, which is a classic sign of type 2 inflammation.
The researchers found that the eosinophil response was mediated by immune cells called group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s), which were activated by elevated levels of small molecules called bile acids in the blood.
The study also confirmed inulin’s previously reported effect of boosting anti-inflammatory immune cells called Treg cells.
The researchers concluded that while inulin can cause type 2 inflammation, it is not necessarily always harmful.
Inulin can enhance the defense against parasitic worm infections, and type 2 immune responses can increase the production of tissue-protecting mucus in healthy people.
How to protect gut health
Maintaining gut health involves a combination of healthy dietary and lifestyle habits. Here are some tips to protect gut health:
Eat a balanced and varied diet rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. These foods provide essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that help keep your gut healthy.
Increase your fiber intake to help feed the good bacteria in your gut. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids. Water helps to keep the digestive system moving smoothly and aids in the absorption of nutrients.
Limit your intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol. These can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut and cause inflammation.
Manage stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Stress can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut and cause digestive problems.
Exercise regularly to help keep your digestive system functioning properly.
Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, as smoking can damage the lining of the digestive tract and disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut.
Talk to your healthcare provider about taking probiotics or prebiotics, which can help promote good gut health by supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
By following these tips, you can help maintain good gut health and support your overall health and well-being.
The study was conducted by Dr. David Artis and his team and was published in the journal Nature.
If you care about inflammation, please read studies about an important cause for chronic inflammation, and scientists find a better way to treat inflammation.
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